Reflections on the Irish Catholic Tradition of Confirmations.

What’s changed in 30 years?

Saoire O' Brien


Over the past couple of weeks, children across Ireland were finally able to make their confirmation. My son, just like me 30 years ago, was the only one out of his class not to make his confirmation. So 30 years on, and now looking at it from the perspective of an adult, what’s changed in my opinion?

As a parent, I have made several adjustments, some small, some drastic, throughout my son's schooling, in an effort to give him the best or most balanced environment to grow within, that I could offer or that I believed possible.

My parents at the time were coming at it from a different perspective, the decision on their behalf for me not to attend religion classes, was much more radical. I remember I was called the devil's child by someone and my parents were referred to as the ‘weird ones’ by some!

But, 30 years later when speaking to people about my son not doing his confirmation, I have had people congratulate me on standing up and not being a hypocrite, on being honest and passing remarks such as — “ sure, it’s only a waste of time anyway”.

Personally, I’m attempting to navigate the waters and provide my son with a faith and belief system that he can draw on, in a time of need that's based on purity and honesty at the very least and if nothing else!

I was brought up in a mixed religious environment — Greek Orthodox and Irish Catholic household. While both Catholic and Orthodox believe in a certain set of values and teachings which are very similar, the way they practice and worship them is quite different and in that way, my Greek Orthodox values and onboarding of certain things is clearly evident in my personality and in the way I’ve navigated my own life.

People spend so long picking the best school and after school activities and so on and so forth for their children but little thought is given to their spiritual teachings and instead, the majority of parents, (unless they decided to send their child to a non-denominational school) just go along with the flow and do whatever is asked of them, even if morally they do not agree with it.

What Suprised me

I have taken some time to reflect upon the whole event and the significance of the matter.